Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2nd Grade Art Lesson: Space Scultpure Park

For my 2nd grade art lesson today, I wanted to talk about sculpture, one of my favorite mediums.  I tailored a lesson for the kids to teach about one of the 7 elements of art: space.

We are spending the year going over all seven of them here: Line Shape Form Space Color Value Texture

I started by telling them that for today's lesson, we were going to be Curators.  I asked how many knew what a curator was, and only one hand shot up.  His guess was someone who cures people. Adorable, but I told the class that a curator was a person who gathers art in one place and shows it to everyone else.  I explained that today we were going to be curating a sculpture park by creating individual paper positive and negative space sculptures. Then we are going to gather our artwork in the front hallway for the parents to enjoy during pick up.

I started the lesson explaining what is space?

Space in a finished work of art refers to the two basic parts as the positive & negative.
A positive space is the space that is occupied by the thing you are drawing.
A negative space is the space around the thing you are drawing. Sometimes this can be called a background.

We looked at this image and I asked the children what they saw.

Some saw apes, while others saw a vase, and a few even saw a volcano. I explained that the positive space was what the artist drew and the negative space was what the artist left behind.  And it was up to us to decide which is which.  We were going to be using that same concept in creating our sculptures by using positive and negative space in our piece.

I showed images of Firefighters, a sculpture artwork in Pioneer Square, Seattle, by the artist Hai Ying Wu, a Chinese American sculptor best known for his firefighter memorials. I gave a little snippet of his involvement in a revolution that occurred in a place called Tenement Square and about his move to the US and ultimate settling at the University of Washington.  I also spent a little bit of time explaining how a call to artists goes out, how a jury selects a number of pieces they like, then a public hearing is called and how the artist is ultimately chosen for a location.

We talked about the firefighters and how the artist uses both positive and negative space in such areas as the hose, their masks and of course the beautiful artwork that is behind the firemen. I wanted them to concentrate on how the piece was not just a perfect example of space, but I wanted them to see how it was balanced.  I asked them to make sure that their final piece was balanced and able to stand on its own.

Last year a kind soul had generously donated tag board to me, so I brought it in to use since it was thicker then construction paper. But despite it being donated, it is still a little expensive, so I gave them copy paper and pencil to draw out their design before hand to make sure it not only used up the whole sheet of paper, but that it was balanced enough to stand. 

Once the students could show myself, their teacher, or my helper (thanks again to Mrs. Val!) that their copy paper sculpture used both positive and negative space, we handed over the tag board and scissors.

Here are close ups of some of the masterpieces from our sculpture park.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2nd Grade Art Lesson: Value in Nature

I went into my daughter's 2nd Grade class room as an Art Docent today and shared with them a lesson on value.

We have been going over the 7 elements of art, and I was so happy to see that many of them remember the ones we've already covered this year (color, line and texture), and a few knew the ones that we haven't learned yet (shape, form and space).

We started our lesson on value by looking at some cherry blossom tree photos similar to this one.

I pointed out to the children how value deals with the lightness or darkness of a color.  Since we see objects and understand objects because of how dark or light they are, value is incredible important to art.

We looked at  a few more images of cherry blossom trees to study how light hits the blossoms in different directions.

I then showed them this image on an apple and presented them with a little test.

I asked the class to raise their hands if they thought this was a photo or a painting.  Only three of the 26 students guessed correctly that it was a painting.  Everyone else thought it was a photo.

I showed them how the artist used 8 ranges of value, both of the color red and white, together to create the illusion the apple was real.

I then spent a few minutes illustrating how the green on my shirt (Happy St. Patrick's Day!) looked different depending where I stood next to the window.  The side of me that faced the window looked lighter then the side of me that faced the hallway. Despite the shirt being the same color all over.

Feeling confident that the children got the concept, I handed out paper, brown markers and oil pastels. I had really wanted to do this lesson in watercolor, but alas, I didn't have extra hands to help and had to resort to a less messy lesson.

After making sure we all wrote our names on our paper, we turned them over.  Since cherry blossom branches don't go up and down, we want to make sure our main branch started on one side of our sheet.  We made two thick lines and darkened the side of the branch away from the sunlight with the brown marker.  We drew in lines to create the value of bark.

We then went in and drew in smaller branches, also by creating two lines that don't meet, coming off the main branch.  The final step was to add Ys at the end of our smaller branches to support our flowers.

Now the fun of coloring in the rest of our value of the branches and get started on the cherry blossoms.  We pulled out the red oil pastel and drew in five circles, since there is always five petals on a cherry blossom.

We drew radiating lines of white oil pastels coming out of each red petal, racing towards the center.  We then took our fingers and smudged the colors, three touches only, to blend the colors to make pink.

Here are a few of the masterpieces.  I did not put these up on the wall because I wanted the kids to take some spring home to their parents.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fragmented Libya...rejected

Yesterday, I received a rejection email from Dawn Laurant, the curator for the cARTography: Personal Metaphors and Mindful Maps show, for my submitted artwork Fragmented Libya. The show is due to occur at the ryan james fine arts gallery in spring 2015.

Fragmented Libya

After reading the standard "We received an overwhelming response" I decided to write the curator an inquiry email to ask why my piece was not accepted.  Having never submitted to a juried gallery show before, I wanted to learn from the process to better improve myself. I included a link to my post from last week about my submission and said I'd like to do a follow up for my blog readers.

Ms. Laurant accidentally sent me this email that was to go to her boss: 

I had to stop myself and erase my response several times...her work wasn't very good is the honest answer but I really don't want to get involved in a long conversation...she seems like trouble....help!!! I'll just blame it all on you okay? Kidding. but not...oh boy it's getting late.
Two minutes later this email was also sent to me:

Dear Kay,
I realized you just received an email that was not meant for you...the artist I was referring to in my email to Ryan is someone that has been working with us for awhile but was not accepted into this show.
It goes on, but let's pause here so we clearly understand where this email starts to go wrong.

It's obvious the original email was about me because if the email was meant for a different artist that has been working with ryan james fine arts gallery for awhile, then why would the email refer to this very artist as someone who "seems like trouble."  If you've been working with someone for awhile, wouldn't you already know if they were trouble or not? 

I honestly stopped reading after that. There seemed to be no point in learning about a juried gallery show process, when it simply boils down to the fact that there is none and she didn't think the piece was good. Fair enough, she's entitled to her opinion.

I am not taking it personally that Dawn Laurant did not think it was good. I started the year with artwork hanging at the Washington State Convention Center, followed by the Bellevue Art Museum, two respected institutions in our community.

I replied to let her know that I won't be taking up any more of her time since she has her hands full of so many other artists responses.  I'm not exactly sure why she thought I was trouble from an inquiry email.

I'm looking forward to the spring opening to see who was chosen for this exhibit.

As for Fragmented Libya, it is evident it needs to stay in my home a little bit longer.   As my favorite artist Marita Dingus always says "Hisroty informs my art" and that is how I feel about this piece. 

You need thick skin to try to be an artist, and knowing that Fragmented Libya belongs elsewhere will keep me going on the search of where it needs to hang for others to appreciate all 178 fragmented khatim maps of the battles that occurred in history.